'Swimming Home' by Deborah Levy

Bookgroup is back, and this is our latest read, the allusive Swimming Home by Deborah Levy. The narrative tells of the Jacob's family holiday interrupted by the arrival of troubled Kitty Finch, a groupie of the poet and serial adulterer, Joe Jacob. Kitty's mental health and when, rather than if, she finally sleeps with Joe, form the basis of the plot, as the characters, including Joe's wife, Isabel, all wrestle with their private demons and relationship issues. The ending is unexpected, with depression and its secretive, subversive, destructive gnawing away, providing the momentum for an unexpected deviation towards the plot's conclusion.
          The book is spare and the writing understated with a sense of atmosphere effortlessly conveyed with a sure writer's touch. However, the flaw, for me with this book, is its failure to portray characters that the reader cares about and in whose fates they can invest, therefore the unexpected conclusion 
left me mildly discomforted but largely unperturbed. I don't expect to necessarily like characters, but I do need to engage with them, in order for the book's meaning to carry any weight, and I didn't.
          The bookgroup verdict was mixed with some members liking the evocation of atmosphere and sense of place, admiring the use of small details to create them. Others, like me, found the characters and connections unreal and unconvincing. But this is my blog so it's my opinion that generates the final conclusion, here at least.

Verdict: don't read


Popular Posts